Mahomes’ NFL Success Is Important For Texas Tech Football

Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II presents the humanitarian award to Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt during the Leigh Steinberg party at Hughes Manor. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II presents the humanitarian award to Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt during the Leigh Steinberg party at Hughes Manor. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /

Former Texas Tech quarterback Pat Mahomes is participating in the NFL Combine this week and his success at the next level is important to the future of Texas Tech.

The first major event of the NFL offseason, the NFL Scouting Combine, is underway in Indianapolis, Indiana.  While there is only one Red Raider, Pat Mahomes, participating, his performance and future NFL success can significantly benefit his alma mater.

Mahomes is the best quarterback prospect ever to come from Texas Tech.  Even though Red Raider passers have put up prolific numbers in the post Spyke Dyes era, that success has not translated to the NFL.

Because high profile Texas Tech quarterbacks like Kliff Kingsbury and Graham Harrell have not been able to make a name for themselves on Sundays, many claim that the system is chiefly responsible for the success of Red Raider signal callers.

Many Tech fans do not care what the critics say.  Ultimately, the most important fact is that the Red Raider quarterbacks are effective within the system.  Whether the credit falls upon the player or the offensive scheme is immaterial to many.

However, high school quarterback prospects that dream of a professional football career, need to know that Texas Tech and Kliff Kingsbury can help them reach their goal.

For all the talk about Kingsbury’s ability to develop star collegiate quarterbacks, those players have yet to become stars or even starters at the next level.

As offensive coordinator at Houston, Kingsbury helped Case Keenum set the NCAA record for career passing yards and career touchdown passes.  Yet, Keenum was not drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft.  After signing a free-agent deal, Keenum has been a career backup.  He’s made only 24 starts and thrown for 24 touchdowns in his five-year career.

But Keenum’s achievements in the NFL seem other-worldly when compared to the most accomplished college quarterback to develop under Kingsbury.

In his lone season as the Texas A&M offensive coordinator (2012), Kingsbury coached redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel to a Heisman Trophy.  While Kingsbury parlayed this success into his current job as Texas Tech head coach, Manziel has been an abject failure as a professional.

To be fair, it must be noted that virtually all Manziel’s failures in the NFL have been because of poor decisions made away from the field.  Kingsbury was responsible for molding Manziel as a football player not as a man.  Due to Manziel’s personal failures, the world will never know if he would have been a good enough football player to succeed in the NFL.

Pat Mahomes presents the best opportunity Texas Tech and Kliff Kingsbury have had at producing a star NFL quarterback.

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Dallas, TX WFAA channel 8 contributor Joe Weaver calls Mahomes the  most talented quarterback in the 2017 draft.

"He writes, “One of the first traits that get prospects recognized by NFL scouts is natural athletic ability, and Mahomes oozes with it. And when the tape comes on, there may not be a player more fun to study in this class.”"

Indeed, no Texas Tech quarterback in history has had the physical gifts (6-foot-3, 230-pounds) and the football talent that Mahomes has. He is even being hailed as a possible first round draft pick by NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock .

No Texas Tech quarterback has been drafted in the first round.  In fact, it has been rare for a Red Raider quarterback to be drafted at all.

Kingsbury and B.J. Symons are the only Red Raider quarterbacks to be drafted since 1993. Furthermore, no Texas Tech product has even started a game in the NFL since Billy Joe Tolliver started for the New Orleans Saints in 1999.

Certainly, this is not to suggest that a college football program’s success is directly tied to the NFL success of its alumni.  For example, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers is bound for the Hall of Fame but his alma mater, California, has had only one winning season since 2012.

Still, Mahomes could provide Texas Tech with a much-needed recruiting tool.  The shine has worn off Kingsbury.  He is no longer the high-profile rising star of the coaching profession.

He must now convince high school prospects that he will even be the Texas Tech head coach beyond next season.  If he does survive 2017, he will still face a tough time on the recruiting trail.

Texas Tech must be able to convince prospects that they can reach the NFL under the tutelage of Kingsbury and his staff.  The only way for the Red Raiders to become more competitive, is to add more NFL talent to the program.  Until that happens, Tech will continue to languish in mediocrity.

Consider the NFL talent on the four 2016 college football playoff teams.  Alabama has ten players participating in this year’s NFL combine.  National champion Clemson has nine, Ohio State eight and Washington seven.

Mahomes is the sole Red Raider invited to Indianapolis this week.  He is the best NFL prospect the university has produced since Michael Crabtree.

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Texas Tech needs to have a star in the NFL to point to as an example of what future players can accomplish after three or four years in Lubbock.  If Mahomes becomes the player that his talent suggests he can be, Kingsbury and his staff will be able to borrow a line from a former Texas Tech University marketing campaign and tell recruits, “From here it’s possible.”